Sandalwood Spike Disease (SSD)
#GS3 #Diseases #Environment
India’s sandalwood trees, the country’s pride — particularly of Karnataka — are facing a serious threat with the return of the destructive Sandalwood Spike Disease (SSD). The infection has resurfaced in the aromatic tree’s natural habitats in Karnataka and Kerala.
- The natural population of sandalwood in Marayoor of Kerala and various reserve forests in Karnataka, including MM Hills, are heavily infected with SSD for which there is no cure as of now.
- Presently, there is no option but to cut down and remove the infected tree to prevent the spread of the disease, caused by phytoplasma — bacterial parasites of plant tissues — which are transmitted by insect vectors.
- With between 1 and 5% of sandalwood trees lost every year due to the disease, scientists warn that it could wipe out the entire natural population if measures are not taken to prevent its spread.
- SSD has been one of the major causes for the decline in sandalwood production in the country for over a century. The disease was first reported in Kodagu in 1899.
- The devastating impact in natural habitats resulted in sandalwood being classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1998.